Danks Challenges Winneckes Confidentiality Policy


Scott Danks

Attorneys at Law

Dear Ted:

I am sure that you will agree that there has been a tremendous amount of time wasted on what information/records the Council can receive from the administration and the confidentiality of the requested information/records. We all have more important things to do than engage in this continued bickering over information/records and, therefore, I am revisiting this issue.

I.C. 36-4-5-3(3) provides that the Mayor shall “provide any information regarding City affairs that the legislative body requests.” Likewise, Evansville Municipal Code 2.05.010(F) provides that “the Mayor shall provide any information regarding City affairs that the legislative body requests.” (emphasis added). Thus, there are no ifs, buts or maybes about it. If the Council requests information/records from the administration the information/records must be provided to the Council period.

Pursuant to State statute, information/records fall into one of three categories: 1) confidential, 2) discretionary, and 3) not protected. Regardless of the classification of the information/records it must be furnished to the Council upon request.

Confidential records are very few and are contained in I.C. 5-14-3-4(a). When requested, the information/records must be provided to the Council upon request. Upon receiving information/records identified as confidential, the Council must maintain the confidentiality of the information/records pursuant to I.C. 5-14-3-6.5. Failure to maintain the confidentiality is a Class A Infraction pursuant to I.C. 5-14-3-10.

Pursuant to I.C. 5-14-3-4(b), certain information/records are exempted from disclosure at the discretion of the agency in possession thereof. The “discretionary” information/records are the ones that seem to cause disputes between the Council and the Administration. Again, discretionary information/records must be provided to the Council upon request without any redactions. Once these records are received by the Council IT IS THE COUNCIL NOT THE ADMINISTRATION THAT HAS THE DISCRETION TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE INFORMATION/RECORDS WILL REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL.

On several occasions, the Council has received discretionary information/records stamped “confidential” with instructions that the information/records must remain confidential. The City has no legal authority to do this.

When providing discretionary information/records to the Council, the City may request that the Council keep all or part of it confidential. It would be very helpful to provide an explanation as to why the information/records should remain confidential. But, again, whether they remain confidential will be at the SOLE DISCRETION of the Council. If you can find any legal authority to the contrary, please advise.

I discussed my legal analysis with Mr. Joseph Hoage, Indiana Public Access Counselor, and he concurs 100%. Attorney Hoage provided me with an analogy that I think is helpful: a sheriff’s department conducting an investigation can exercise its discretion to keeps its investigatory files confidential. However, once these files are turned over to the prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor then has the sole discretion on whether or not to maintain the confidentiality of those records.

Recently, discretionary records have been provided to the Council but marked confidential. In effect, the administration is putting a gag order on the Council.

As you know, all Council business must be conducted in a public forum and it becomes problematic to for them to discuss various issues that the administration has deemed to be confidential. Most Members of the Council are of the opinion that rather than attempting to find ways to keep information/records confidential that the efforts should be redirected in finding ways to make records public. Transparency is very important to the Council as the lack thereof causes undo suspicion on members of the public as well as the news media.

The Council realizes that many governmental entities do not appreciate others meddling and many times do not welcome scrutiny. The Council is of the opinion that transparency and scrutiny makes for better government.

Therefore, in the future discretionary information/records will be made public by the Council unless in doing so it would be injurious to the City of Evansville, its employees or the public.

As always, your cooperation in this matter is very much appreciated.


Scott A. Danks, Attorney at Law
for the
Common Council of the City of Evansville


  1. Well done, Mr. Danks. Bravo, a long-overdue lesson to the Administration on being transparent.

  2. Go get em Mr. Danks We the people deserve to know the truth , we must have full transparency as a tool so we can put good and honesty back into OUR GOVERNMENT

  3. No wonder the City Council sought out Mr. Danks to be their attorney. Keep up the great work Mr. Danks.

  4. Any restoration of the system of checks and balances between the branches of local government is desirable. The open exchange of information is the foundation on which our government rests.

    It should be stressed to the public at every opportunity that these local government entities are, in all cases, required to operate in an open, just, and ethical manner.


  5. Danks has no authority to issue this policy statement without the city council approving it. He has become the 10th councilman John Hamilton was there over twelve years and issued few statements. Danks has been there weeks and issued four and counting. All without council approval. When did the council amend this job description.

    • That is because Hamilton was a lap dog for Weinzapfel & Winnecke. There is a new sheriff in town. His name is Danks and he has the cajones to keep the Mayor in line. It is about time.

  6. Winnecke´s political career is D-E-A-D and he and Ziemer will be lucky if the Citizenry doesn’t express their contempt by spitting when either one passes by.

  7. Scott, thank you for all your hard work in fighting the machine these past few years. I can tell you first hand that the last thing Winnecke likes is when the lights are turned on on his administration. So keep the pressure on.

    I also enjoyed your beat down of that Main Gate waiter at the Al Lindsey trial. That was great.

  8. Does anyone else think that Mr. Danks would be outstanding as Chairman of the Vanderburgh County Democratic Party?

    • I never thought about that but now that you’ve mentioned it I think that would be an excellent idea. Initially I would have said the local Dems wouldn’t do something that great but with Owen getting his walking papers and Weinzapfel all but gone, there could be some hope.

    • should he decide to throw his name in the hat the election is March 2. We need some new blood.

      • I suspect Scott Danks would only consider the Democratic Chairmanship if he was quietly asked by many Democrats to serve.

  9. The present chairman of the Democratic party was left to clean up the most horrendous mess left by Mark Owen-Jack inherited a headache, and did the best he could with it. I am sure that it was not a walk in the park. And I thank Jack for getting us out of the mud financially-when he took up the torch, the Democratic party was being sued by several entities-in trememdous debt. Thanks to Jack and Mary, we are no longer in debt. I find it difficult to criticize them for doing a job no one else wanted, and getting the Democratic party back on it’s feet.
    Thank you Jack McNeely and Mary Hart. You worked miracles, and there are those of us who will always be thankful.

    • I would disagree with your statement the party is back on it’s feet, when they can only get 20 peple to a ward picnic in Lorainne park or at a preelection rally there is something very wrong that is not being addressed. Of course that could be the fault of the ward leadership.

    • Ethridge fudges the truth too. There is nothing like a lying government supported by a propaganda tool press to ruin a city.

  10. Got Yourbaqck…how so true…wonder why this Administration is participating in deflection, distraction, and concealment in documentation. Whatever the reason, the final and absoluate judge will be the SBOA…

    • I wish I could be as sure as you about the talents of the SBOA. I do not know if anyone is going to attempt to do the forensics necessary to satisfy the questions about the reviews that never took place of the SM&G contracts with the city for 2006-2011.

      The SBOA auditors are left in one location too long, and that familiarity can lead to personal relationships that might have a bearing on audit findings.

      There is also some nepotism within the SBOA that opens the door for criticism that would not otherwise exist in its absence.


  11. Dear Press…Your initial assessment in many ways holds merit. The agency is critically unfunded and under staffed. And your view concerning relationships is not necessarily off point. The SBOA auditors are generally cash statement oriented and seems to reach the water’s edge, but, hesitate in dipping their toes into the water. They are generally well enough training and experienced, but, when one has so many engagements to perform, one will short cut procedures, check the boxes, and move to the next widget. But, from time to time, the agency will snag a wrongdoer, we can only hope that the local nets are strong!

    • There reaches a time when the totality of transgressions call for action that may not have been necessary in the past. We have a system of checks and balances, at least on paper we do, and if people will just do the jobs they are paid to do a lot of the public’s mistrust could be relieved.

      I do not want to see this city added to the list of cities headed for bankruptcy, but currently spending is still going up, with several big ticket items being discussed, and population and jobs that pay a livable wage are going down. Too many of those in charge seem more concerned with socializing rather than economizing.

      Past SBOA audits sound like a broken record that keeps playing the same list of exceptions. Although it receives scant coverage in the press, those people who REALLY care about this city should be raising Holy hell.


      • Who in the world do you think you are? These SBOA auditors who you are critical of have years of experience and/or a CPA certification. You can’t say that of the employees of the Controller’s Office.

  12. Scott Danks would make an excelent chair for the dems. He has the negotiation skills to get the dems in this town back together. Under McNeely things have only gotten worse. This is no surprise, as he is Weinzapfel’s hemroid. Please run Mr. Danks

      • Does anyone know the procedure to get Mr. Danks on the ballot? Can he be a write-in candidate?

        • Mr Danks has to inform the party he is running in writing 72 hours prior to the election I believe. The caucus formed of the precinct committeemen and vice committeemen will vote from those who choose to run on March 2. I don’t believe it is possible to be written in or nominated from the floor.

  13. Isn’t he the same guy now that the same people on here praising him, were wanting to crusify a few months back because of an underage drinking party at his house? This is an example of a lot of the “regulars” talking out both sides of your mouth. Good guy now, good guy then. Funny how time heals all wounds with Hypocrits!

      • This is why the legal drinking age in most civilized countries is either 16 or 18. Kids are going to drink anyway and it is the wisest of parents who realize this and make provisions.

        Explain to me the sense of a drinking age of 21 while a young man or woman can enter the Army and fight for his or her country at 18? So he or she is responsible enough to make life or death decisions behind the sights of a fully automatic weapon in the name of Uncle Sam, but not responsible enough to celebrate coming of age with a pint or two? Makes about as much sense as our Federal Drug War…that is, none.

        Hopefully as this current generation of boomers begins to die off, the next generation can undo some of the damage they have caused in nearly every facet of law and life with their inattention, self-indulgence, and hypocrisy.

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